Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Photo of the Day

I'm in one of those photography moods, so I've been looking for photo opportunities lately - a lot more than I had been the rest of the winter. I took this picture on a beautiful, sunshiny afternoon this past Monday, while waiting for an appointment. It was taken at Occom Pond, on the Dartmouth College campus.

I had my hockey gear in the back of my car (which I've been driving around with for the past 2-3 weeks), ready to play any pond hockey when an opportunity arose, but everyone playing on the pond was either a young kid, or the parent of a young kid. I guess that tells me I need to become one of two things: a young kid, or the parent of a young kid!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Almost Drowned Today

Okay. Note quite.

For the first time all winter, I decided to engage in a little photography. Granted, I had taken some snapshots over Christmas and other such events, but this was the first time where I actually took my tripod and drove around - with the sole purpose of taking landscape pictures - since last October.

Truth be told, the cold weather in these parts - complete with five feet of snow piled up - is quite a deterrent from wanting to set out on such adventures. But today, with clear blue skies, I decided that I had to take advantage of such a nice day.

So I set out for a few places in my town. First, I went to the old Meeting House just down the road. None of the pictures I took of that vintage building were to my liking. Then I went over to a covered bridge on the other side of town. I had been eying this structure for quite a while, trying to figure out the best point to shoot it from. So I set off down stream to see if I could get a nice shot of the fast rapids, with the bridge in the background.

Fortunately, it appeared as though someone else had trekked through the snow already, setting a path for me. But when I got down stream and realized there were no good places that I would be able to get the bridge in the background, I tried to leap over a small dip in the snow, only to fall down and break through a little bit of ice. I was up to my ankles in water, desperately trying to get out.

Finally, I managed to pull my self out of the ankle deep water. My camera, which I had been carrying with my tripod, had taken a nose-dive into the snow, covering the whole backside of the camera. Fortunately, no damage was done to it. And, fortunately, my wet foot dried off fairly quickly as I walked around.

I was disappointed that I did not get the picture I was looking for - a better vantage point would have been on the other side of the river, but in order to get to the other side of the river, I would have had to slide down about a 75 foot embankment, with no promise that I would be able to stop before I reached the icy waters below. I figured it wasn't worth the risk.

So, I just retraced my footsteps and returned to my car.

Fortunately, I decided to linger a little longer at the bridge and take some other pictures of it. As is often the case in photography, though I set out with one particular shot in mind, I ended up taking some other shots that I thought turned out pretty good. I never would have captured them, more than likely, if I had just packed up my belongings and headed home after my failed attempt at getting the picture I had in mind.

After spending about 30 minutes at the bridge, I came away with a few shots that I am pleased with (of course, I would have preferred a few better ones, too). This is the way it goes with photography. One of the most important things a person can do is to slow down. I guess there's a spiritual lesson there somewhere.

All in all, after taking about 75-100 pictures in about 2 hours, I came away with probably 2-3 that I'm semi-happy with. That's photography for you as well.

Which of the two below do you prefer? The color, or black-and-white?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Questions on Doctrine

Chances are, you don't know much about the "most divisive book in Seventh-day Adventist history." Two nights ago, when I asked my Prayer Meeting attendees - all fourteen or so of them - if they had heard of the Questions on Doctrine issue, only three or four of them raised their hands - ever so tentatively. And none of these people were under 30, either. (Admittedly, a number of the people in the group have joined the church a little later on in life, so that may have something to do with it.)

But this is an important issue, and a Conference was held at Andrews University this past October, discussing the history and issues involved 50 years later.

I would strongly urge you to surf on over to http://qod.andrews.edu/downloads.html and listen to some of the presentations. In particular, the presentations by George Knight (which you can listen to by clicking here) and Herbert Douglass (click here) are extremely informative and enlightening.

It would be extremely beneficial to familiarize yourself with the issues. It helps a person understand how we got where we are in the current landscape of Adventism. We did not arrive here in a vacuum, and unless we understand our history, we will have no idea where we are going. As someone has suggested: we do not study history to understand the past, but to understand the future.

*Just a word of warning: The above audio files are very big files because the people who posted them did not convert them to a lower bit rate, thus causing each presentation to be well over 100 MB each.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What's Your Agenda?

Did Jesus have a political agenda? If He were alive today, would His ministry look more like that of Martin Luther King, Jr., or Billy Graham?

This issue has been rolling around in my head for a while and, at some point, I have to resolve it. Many on the "left" would have us believe that Jesus' ministry was one that was primarily focused on social and political concerns. Thus, they feel it their Christian duty to spend the vast majority of their time focusing on political and social issues, lobbying and marching endlessly for the poor and oppressed.

Many on the "right" feel it their Christian duty to simply share the spiritual truths of the Gospel, telling people of the salvific aspects of the "kingdom of God."

Could it be that, as usual, Jesus is somewhere in the middle?

Truth be told, I don't see a large emphasis in Jesus' ministry on taking up the political and social banner. Yes, He definitely turned some of the societal norms on their heads (does the Samaritan woman - both strikes against her - at the well ring a bell?). But His political and social actions were more subtle than overt.

Those who took up the cause of Jesus after His departure definitely seemed to emphasize the spiritual over the political as well - not that they neglected the latter altogether, of course. In Ephesians, for example, when Paul lists off the various roles that God has set apart, nowhere does he say that God has given some to be "politicians or social activitists." This is not to say that God is opposed to such roles - no more than He's opposed to someone being an engineer or physician - but it does tell me that we need not feel guilty if we don't run down to our local protest or political demonstration every day, angrily demanding an end to the war - though we should probably be opposed to it - or promoting a new bill that grants immunity to illegal immigrants.

These, of course, are simply my initial reflections.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Problem With Evolutionists

Perhaps the greatest problem with evolutionists is the fact that they often ask questions of creationists but refuse to stick around to hear the answers.

I am currently reading the book Darwin's God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil, by Cornelius G. Hunter, and his main premise is that the theory of evolution, at its core, is a theological hypothesis, rather than a scientific one. For Charles Darwin, whose favorite book was Milton's Paradise Lost, reconciling a loving and benevolent God with the cruelties of nature was impossible. As he wrote, "What a book a devil's chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horribly cruel works of nature" (quoted in Hunter, p. 10). Similarly, Darwin noted, "There seems to be me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the [parasitic wasp] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that the cat should play with mice" (Ibid., p. 12)

And evolutionists have followed Darwin's line of thinking ever since. More often than not, when they see various aspects of nature, these scientists conclude that "God wouldn't have made it that way," thus taking their research from the scientific arena to the theological. As Hunter observes, referring to one particular evolutionist, "[He] obviously has specific ideas of what the designer is and is not allowed to do. First, the designer must be sensible to us, going about his work as we see fit" (83).

In essence, we conceitedly try to make God in our image, implying that He has to operate within the framework that we think He should. It is the epitome of self-love, in my opinion. Are we so arrogant as to believe that we know how things should or should not work? (Admittedly, I am nowhere near a scientist so I am not as optimistic about the capabilities of the field.)

Ultimately, however, we are confronted with the reality that, although evolutionists demand answers from creationists, they refuse to stick around to hear those answers. In his book, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, time and again, points to different aspects of nature as evidence that an Intelligent Designer is disqualified (which, of course, is not a positive argument for evolution, but a negative argument against design - the precise accusation he flings at creationists). Yet while he makes these accusations, at the same time he has no room for theology, saying that he has never heard a good explanation as to why theology should be considered a subject at all.

So which is it, Dawkins? You demand an explanation from creationists as to how such works of nature can be reconciled with God, yet you laugh at the very field of study you are questioning. There seems to be a bit of hypocrisy.

Dawkins isn't alone, of course, as Hunter has shown. Many of them have taken the bait - hook, line, and sinker. As he writes, "They [evolutionists] employ assertions about what God would and would not do to prove their point, yet they claim that evolution is a scientific conclusion" (84). They do this while scoffing at those who try to answer the questions that allegedly prove their intellectual superiority.